Acorn BioLabs takes on DNA home collection tests, brings live cell kit to market

Cell Collection

Acorn Biolabs, a Toronto-based healthtech company, has announced the launch of its live cell collection, genetic analysis, and cryopreservation service, all done through a non-invasive method of plucking a few hairs from a person’s head.

“Cell therapy is rapidly emerging as the future of healthcare.”
-Drew Taylor, CEO Acorn Biolabs

 
As human cells age, they become less effective for cell therapy use, which is why people are choosing to gather and conserve their cells, the company stated. It noted, however, that existing methods of collecting live cells can be invasive, making live cell collection difficult. Acorn is aiming to make this process more affordable and accessible.

“Cell therapy is rapidly emerging as the future of healthcare,” said Drew Taylor, co-founder and CEO of Acorn Biolabs. “Your own cells are the key to leveraging its potential, increasingly unlocking preventative healthcare that can improve your health span. Medical advancements have allowed for doctors to use your own cells to predict, treat, and even eradicate disease and degenerative changes. Stem cell therapies, tissue engineering strategies, and regenerative medicine are all powered by using cells.”

The startup said its method differs from the popular saliva-based DNA home collection kits, as those take dead human cells, and focus on less than one percent of a full genome. This, the company said, is limiting its use to ancestry and basic health reports. Other means of cell collection include bone marrow extractions, venous blood draws, and tissue harvesting, which can be invasive and expensive. Acorn noted its method allows for full genome collection while remaining non-invasive.

For a one-time fee, the company says it can collect and cryopreserve patients’ cells for future medical use. The one-time fee will include collection, a cell viability report, cell images, a report outlining patients’ genetic age, as well as cell storage for one year.

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This week, the company conducted a hair follicle collection demo at MaRS Health Innovation Week. Acorn will continue to debut its live cell collection experience at a series of events across Canada this year, including Total Health ‘19, Collision, BigData Toronto, and Elevate, among others.

Acorn was founded in 2017, and is currently housed in MaRS Discovery District’s JLABS incubator, which opened in 2016. The company’s new service launch comes two months after the company closed a $3.3 million seed round, from Real Ventures, Globalive Technology, Pool Global Partners, and Epic Capital Management.

The startup noted that the introductory one-time fee for collection is $299 for it to cryopreserve cells for future medical use. Annual cell storage fees start at $99 for children under the age of 19 and are available to customers who sign up for the service starting in their second year. Acorn stated it will also be making available a client referral program.

Image courtesy Unsplash.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Writer, globetrotter, drone pilot & David Attenborough enthusiast